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Military leaders considering plans to send more US troops to Middle East

WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — There are persistent reports that the White House and Pentagon are working on plans to send thousands more U.S. troops to the Middle East. Communities around United States military bases are watching and waiting as well as hoping for the best and preparing for the worst. 

On Thursday, military leaders confirmed the Defense Department is considering plans to send additional troops to the Middle East in response to heightened tensions with Iran.

“What we’re looking at, are there things that we can do to enhance force protection?” said Patrick Shanahan, Acting Secretary of Defense.

Shanahan told reporters there are conversations, but so far no decisions about deploying more troops. Georgia Republican Congressman Buddy Carter supports the administration’s actions so far. 

“The President has made it clear that he does not want a war with Iran, and hopefully we can take care of this diplomatically,” Carter said. 

But some Democrats, including Senator Tammy Duckworth, fear the President’s national security advisor, John Bolton, is intent on provoking Iran.

“I think this march toward conflict with Iran is really being driven by Mr. Bolton, and that is concerning to me.” 

Virginia Democratic Congressman Donald McEachin wants to make sure Congress weighs in on any military action. 

“That the President understands he can not declare a war without coming to us,” said Rep. McEachin.

Defense leaders said they’re committed to updating Congress about the situation in Iran and whether more troops are needed. Administration officials said their goal is to prevent future threats without going to war.

“We know that the maximum pressure campaign is working, you can see that by the crumbling economy that they have, and we’ll see what happens from there,” said Sarah Sanders, White House Press Secretary. “We’re going to keep all of our options on the table”

Pentagon officials said they want to protect American interests as well as the safety of troops.